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China to execute Burlington man who championed Muslim state

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  • Zafar Khan
    China to execute Burlington man who championed Muslim state By Christine Cox The Hamilton Spectator BURLINGTON (Aug 9, 2006)
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2006
      China to execute Burlington man who championed Muslim
      By Christine Cox
      The Hamilton Spectator
      BURLINGTON (Aug 9, 2006)


      Amnesty International fears that Huseyin Celil, a
      Burlington man held in a Chinese jail, could be
      executed by tomorrow.

      The organization has unconfirmed reports that Celil,
      37, will be put to death for alleged terrorist

      Celil's wife, Kamila Telendibaeva, clings to the
      belief that it can't happen. Celil's sister tearfully
      called from China last week saying a police officer
      had told her Celil would be killed Aug. 10, but
      Canadian officials told Telendibaeva that the Chinese
      government said it wasn't true.

      Telendibaeva hasn't seen her husband since he was
      arrested in Uzbekistan while they were visiting her
      family. Celil, a political dissident who came to
      Canada as a refugee, was arrested on a warrant from
      China. He had been sentenced to death in absentia in

      He had championed the cause of the Muslim Uygur people
      in northwest Xinjiang province, an area taken over by
      the Chinese more than 50 years ago.

      Every day Telendibaeva's three children ask her
      "Where's Daddy?" Telendibaeva, who is due to give
      birth to her fourth child Aug. 20, tells them he is
      coming back soon.

      In reality, she is very frightened for his safety.

      "I hope and I pray for good news," the soft-spoken
      woman says as she sits on a sofa in her modestly
      furnished townhouse.

      "I am thinking all the time about my husband."

      She rejects the possibility that he could be executed,
      but she worries that the Chinese authorities may
      torture him or mistreat him in some way.

      "They can give him some medicine, some injections,"
      she said. "They can hurt him and he can lose his

      What frustrates her most is the lack of information.
      The Canadian government does not know where he's being

      Ambra Dickie, a Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said
      yesterday there are ongoing communications between the
      Canadian government and the Chinese government
      regarding Celil. Canada has formally requested
      information on Celil's exact whereabouts and is
      seeking immediate consular access.

      "We continue to make every effort to confirm Mr.
      Celil's well-being and to ensure he is afforded due
      process and that his rights are protected, she said.
      "Chinese authorities continue to maintain that they
      will not seek the death penalty."

      Dickie said Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay is
      following the case very closely.

      Telendibaeva's Hamilton lawyer, Chris MacLeod, said
      Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to send a special
      envoy to Beijing whose sole mission is to deal with
      the Celil case. MacLeod also thinks Canada should send
      a strong message by recalling its ambassador to China.

      MacLeod said China has failed to meet its obligations
      under the Geneva Convention, including consular
      access, telling Canada what the charges are against
      Celil, and ensuring that there is a fair trial if the
      charges are legitimate.

      Canada gave Celil refugee status to protect him from
      his persecutors, but now he's in their hands, the
      lawyer said. "They scooped him from a third country
      while he was travelling on a Canadian passport ... In
      light of China's track record, you cannot help but be

      McMaster University professor John Colarusso considers
      Celil's chances of surviving are "pretty slim."
      Colarusso said the Uygur separatist movement is fairly
      strong in western China and China might execute Celil
      as an example, although that would make him a martyr
      for the Uygurs. Some countries don't care about
      Canadian passports if a person has dual citizenship,
      he said.

      Telendibaeva said Celil doesn't have a Chinese
      passport because China doesn't give them to Uygurs,
      and that he did not know it would be dangerous to
      visit Uzbekistan.

      Beth Berton-Hunter, an Amnesty International
      spokesperson, said the organization has put out an
      Urgent Action call.

      It is urging human rights supporters everywhere to
      appeal to Chinese authorities on Celil's behalf,
      including faxing the ambassador to Canada, Lu Shumin

      Amnesty International says the death penalty is used
      extensively and often arbitrarily in China.

      At least 1,770 people were executed and 3,900
      sentenced to death last year. Amnesty International
      has documented several cases of Uygurs being executed
      for alleged separatist or terrorist activities.





      1998 -- Huseyin Celil flees China for Uzbekistan and
      later Turkey.

      2001 -- Huseyin Celil and his wife Kamila Telendibaeva
      arrive in Canada as political refugees.

      2005 -- They receive Canadian citizenship.

      March 27, 2006 -- Celil arrested in Uzbekistan.

      June 2006 -- Celil quietly deported to China from

      August 2006 -- Unconfirmed reports that Celil will be
      executed Aug. 10.

      More about Islam and Muslims in CHina at:
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